For a long time, I told myself that if I purchased the fancy cleanse drinks and starved myself for X number of days, I’d lose weight and not gain it back the minute I started eating again. Or, I would hit up the book store for the latest diet/healthy lifestyle book, knowing that this book, finally, would be the thing that made it all change for me. I have shelves full of those books. I have been on Weight Watchers 10 times in 10 years. But somehow, I found myself the heaviest I’d ever been in my life this past December. This is the oldest story in the dieting world, but it’s my story and that December date with my weight was a shock.

It all started when I went to college. I gained the freshman 30 and didn’t really do anything about it until I joined Weight Watchers my senior year. I lost 20 pounds and felt great. Then the yo-yoing started. Throughout my 20’s and now into my 30’s, my weight fluctuated. I was at a good healthy weight when I met my husband, we got comfortable, and I starting gaining. We got engaged and I started losing. We got married and I started gaining again. All the while, he stayed his handsome, thin self—loving and supporting me no matter the numbers on the scale.

My problem, of course, was dieting itself—looking for quick fixes for a permanent problem. When Scott emailed me in May about the Social Diet idea, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was doing Weight Watchers for the tenth time since I lost those 20 pounds back in college. I had had some success, but I was stuck. By now, the idea of dieting—or at least dieting without a long-term strategy and lifestyle change—seemed just plain wrong.

But here was an idea that could get me out of my rut: go public, share with all my colleagues and Cooking Light readers how much I weigh. State a goal. Change my eating and exercise habits in a supportive, teamwork environment—in front of a lot of people.

Yes, share my weight. You know that isn’t easy. But here it goes: I’m 5 feet 2 inches tall, 31 years old, and at my heaviest I weighed 177.4. That was back in December 2012. With the help of Weight Watchers I lost about 15 pounds by April and then plateaued. Now, six weeks into the #socialdiet, I have taken a new approach to eating. And I’ve set a goal of losing 20 pounds by November 1 and getting to a maintenance weight of 135 or 137—and then really maintaining that weight! So far, on the Social Diet approach, I’ve lost 7.5 pounds (Erin also does more steps per day than anyone in the group—ed.)

We’ve had lots of conversations about motivation since we first discussed the Social Diet idea back in April. Once you find the motivation, we agreed, willpower follows. What I’ve realized is this: I have now found the motivation to have the willpower to not go on a diet. A diet, without a life plan, is actually a sort of excuse or avoidance. And on this weight issue, I used to be the queen of making excuses: justifying why it’s okay to finish that bottle of wine, to order that dessert, to not work out, etc. Well, you know what? I am calling BS on myself. Tomorrow is not the day that I will stop making excuses and start working at it. Today is the day. Actually, the day happened several weeks ago, when I got that email.

I have been participating in this project since Memorial Day weekend. In that time, I’ve ditched the “fat pants,” I fit into clothes that I haven’t worn since I met my husband, and my weight has dropped into the 150’s, where it hasn’t been for a long time. I’m loving the support of my colleagues and the camaraderie it’s created among us, and I’m happy and motivated. And what’s great about all this is that anyone with a few friends with smart phones or laptops can do exactly as we are doing, using the apps and strategies we’re using.

Next up, I’ll report on more details on what I’m eating and how I’m staying active. Until then, please share with me your stories about weight loss or a big lifestyle change. We’re calling this the #SocialDiet for a reason. Let us hear from you. Comment here, email and tweet @Cooking_Light using #SocialDiet.